Someone like her
This post should be read alongside China Breaks Containment, Zahid Calls for War.
It is astonishing how Malaysians, Malay politicians in particular and their hanger-on, sycophant Malay journalists, so land bound, so small minded about ‘cari makan‘, have absolutely no inkling — absolutely none — concerning the group of Spratly Islands, about who is fighting for what, who is fighting who, and so on.
If what Zahid Hamidi say is true, that the Chinese had encroached on Malaysian territory, then it behooves on him to go to war with China. In referring to three spots of atolls and reefs that the Chinese occupied, Zahid is therefore saying this: Those belong to Malays; they are Tanah Melayu; the Chinese have grabbed Melayu property.
Zahid’s kind of talk is identical in both meaning and content to the Red Shirts marching into Petaling Street, demanding Chinese be kicked out of Malaysia or else they will kill Chinese and burn down Chinese-owned houses for occupying Tanah Melayu.
So, what next, if not war?
It is pointless marching in the Spratly — there is no one around to watch. Nearly all of those places — by one count, 750 pieces of Spratly islets, atolls, reefs, shoals and cays — have only sea shells on the sea shore, each no more than 100 metres wide, not even good enough to make a race track. (Keep this in mind, for we shall return to this point.)
But, Zahid has not the balls to march against China, much less go to war. Against Chinese Malaysians who can’t fight back, he, like Tinju Ali, resort only to shouting and cursing like mad woman Helen Ang running down the street. And that’s that.
Spot A in the map above is Diego Garcia, the largest piece of real estate in the Chagos Archipelago, comprising a group of 60 atolls and reefs, much like the Spratly Islands, along the equatorial belt, no native population, just lots of washed up corals. Its nearest African land mass is Tanzania, 1796 km away.
European seaward colonizers on the way to the Far East would pass it. Hence in the last 300 years, the Portuguese stopped by, and occupation has gone from French to British. Mauritius now claims from the British that it is theirs although the US occupies Diego Garcia with a military facility serving destroyers, submarines, fighter bombers, incredulously, half a planet away, to serve American national interest.
If Zahid Hamidi still has his Javanese scrotum-balls his father gave him, and which his mistress licks on, he can even claim Diego Garcia for Malays. He could say to Americans and Mauritius that the Chagos is actually native bumi land and was once named Pulau Pulau Tanah Melayu. Incredulous, yes, but who is to say he can’t?
More realistically, though, Zahid hasn’t the means nor the firepower to back up such a claim, not even with 2.6 billion in Najib’s bank account which is actually enough to buy a submarine from the French.
This way of explaining Diego Garcia, its geography, its topography — actually nothingness — plus its claimants, its occupiers, past and present, Zahid and his groins, replicates exactly the Spratly Islands disputes.
Even the word dispute so widely used in media reports is erroneous because it assumes, like plaintiffs in court room litigation, one party out of two (or more) is in the right. Or, has to be in the right. That is, the Spratly or a part of it has an original, native occupier.
The Filipino and the Sulu claims on Sabah carry this element of original ownership, or native-ness: ‘we were there, first and foremost, and well before those Malaiyoos and Najib Razak’s father took Sabah from us and sequestered the entire population’.
But, like Diego Garcia, no part of the Spratly or the entire archipelago contains any of the elements of native-ness for a simply reason: there were no permanent inhabitants and no part is habitable, not even for a few hours for passing fishermen to wait out a typhoon. So flat, so barren is it, that unless you live on corals, the Spratly is good only to bury the dead passing through.
And this — a matter of recorded history — is one of China’s historical claims on the Spratly: as early as the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) Chinese traders and fisherman going up and down the South China Sea (some ended up as far as Kelantan) would stop by to bury their dead and on it built a shrine, sometimes called a temple. Unlike white people, the Chinese have no tradition of sea burial and this goes for the Muslim Zheng He as well. He was dead on the last voyage while still sailing into the Malacca Straits so a few in the armada of 60-odd ships had to turn around and sailed back to Fujian with his rotting body. It is today buried in Quanzhou. (Once, Hussein Onn went to see the tomb.)
All this represents a strong case for China’s claims on a historical basis but it is not good enough because such provisions in international sea laws are not considered conclusive — so new and alien are these laws in terms of China’s history.
Sea laws are what they are — sea laws that specify conduct of coastal states, the limits of what they can own in the sea and the rights of ships from other states passing through. But the fundamental issue in Spratly is not about navigation, freedom of passage and so on.
It is about territorial ownership, and territory is not even actual land, but small strips of sea shore covered in coral and stinging hot sand and most so barren and so tiny that when Zahid takes off his pants then squats down to defecate after his Malaiyoo rendang curry, he can be seen at the other end of atoll. You can even smell his fart.
Since it is uninhabited and without natives, and since it is smack in the middle of a 425,000 sq km of ocean, far away from any human or land mass, the Spratly is in a situation not unlike Diego Garcia. So that the fight at Spratly is not about navigation or free passage, it is fundamentally over claims on territory — essentially a fight over space, over nothingness.
Consider this counterpoint to the Spratly: Should the Philippines succeed in wrenching Sabah from Malaysia and claim it as one of their provinces, like Mindanao, what do they have in the territory?
The land is of course a requisite. With land the Philippines could grow coconuts in Sabah and sell them to Najib Razak for his 2.6 billion in AmBank after twenty years. But would you go to war, losing life and limbs, just so as to grow coconuts?
More important than the natural resource is the inhabitants because without them, without people, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, that English duck-quacking President, can’t be president. There is no king without subjects.
Why Malaysia is more likely to war with the Philippines than with China
Why China is singled out as villain
The above is an American-made map, dated 1982. Because there are 750 places in Spratly for the taking, and five countries help themselves to them, it is important to know dates of those maps. Unless permanently occupied, like Layang Layang and the namesake island Spratly (below) taken by Vietnam, countries move in and out at will.
In 1982, Vietnam occupied most of those places followed by the Philippines so that in some atolls, soldiers of different countries are actually staring into each others gun barrels. It means there are more chances of Vietnam and the Philippines fighting than say between Malaysia and China because none in the latter is anywhere near Malaysia’s claim.
Malaysia is sandwiched between Philippine and Vietnam, both countries have seized atolls within Malaysia’s claim-line and Exclusive Economic Zone. In 1982 China-occupied parts of Spratly were roughly equaled to Malaysia in numbers.
Yet in all this brouhaha, China is singled out as the only and chief villain. Why? (a) Because America wanted it that way and the Philippines is an American lackey. (b) Because if China acts, all other claimant-invaders, Taiwan and Malaysia included, will be out of business — ‘so let’s get together, kick out first the Chinaman then our fight between third rate countries will be equal’.
This is also why warmonger Zahid Hamidi was completely irresponsible and it was unnecessary to provoke China. There was nothing to be gained other than to get Asean to band together when it can’t. Just look at the map.
Spratly island, Vietnam, which is just outside Malaysia’s claim-line and EEZ border.
Swallow Reef or Layang Layang, Malaysia.
Swallow Reef was formally occupied by Malaysia in 1983 when the RMN moved in with 18 men. Since renamed Layang Layang, it is both a military outpost and a resort smack in the middle of, according to Zahid Hamidi, a contested area, a potential war zone.
Swallow Reef before it was Layang Layang has land of 15 acres above sea surface. After reclamation it grew to 86 acres, what you see below, which Malaysia says is national sovereign territory. Now Zahid Hamidi is bitching about what China is doing to the northern atolls — in identical fashion.
Will Zahid next transport in Bangladeshis to make them Umno’s fixed deposit vote bank? Fuck you, Zahid.
This then is Spratly’s dilemma to claimants: a territory without territory, land without land, even monkeys won’t live there, so that after you have succeeded in seizing all of this nothingness, what do you do with it? On top of nothingness, there are just ghosts — Chinese ghosts at that. This explains why, quarrel as they may, shout and curse as they may, like mad man Zahid and duck-quacking Aquino, nobody wants to wage war over it.
So, if there are 750 pieces of sand shores and corals for the taking, what should the countries surrounding Spratly do in place of war? Simple: Each one takes a grab at it. And this is what’s happening today, which if you’d think it through is no different from invasion.
It would be invasion if there were native inhabitants. But, without inhabitants, Aquino, the Americans and now Zahid make everything look as if freedom of navigation is as stake and China is the bad boy bully.
Other than to dump its dead fishermen onto those atolls, China is the last of the four main claimant-occupiers — others, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, but omitting spineless Taiwan — to actually go ashore and grab a piece of Spratly. Malaysia is one of the earliest invaders and occupier with Swallow Reef in 1983, since renamed Layang Layang. The idea is simple: first come, first served. In Spratly’s case, first come, first own.
Fearing that Malaysia after Layang Layang would take the other nearby ones, Vietnam and the Philippines quickly followed to the northwest and northeast, the first taking Amboyna Cay and the latter Commodore Reef. Today Vietnam and the Philippines have most of the big atolls and reefs, building airstrips and jetties like those in Layang Layang.
China, worried about projecting its bully boy image, sat on its hands and all through the last 20-30 years restricted its activities to constructing stone markers here and there. This was useless as a method of claiming.
Some five years ago, Aquino’s henchman, behaving very much like the Najib’s Red Shirts, went ashore with sledgehammers and smashed a stone marker to smithereens: ‘Fuck you Chinaman, this is Tanah Melayu‘, is what they are saying.
As if to make up for lost opportunities, China in the last two years has rapidly moved into, or occupy, parts of Spratly, mostly in the north. The word occupy is, like the word dispute, a misnomer. What do you occupy? Corals? The reality in Spratly is different because there is nothing to occupy save for strips of coral and dead fish.
To invade the Spratly isn’t to occupy it. It is to construct something on an atoll or a reef. You actually add to what you take so that in all places taken, invaders like Malaysia and Vietnam build something on an existing tiny territorial surface which, in turn, becomes the seed of a territorial construction. That is to say, the occupation of Spratly is the occupation of artificial land, man-created, after which you call it your sovereign territory.
The result is this: within Spratly, and near Layang Layang, Malaysia has numerous new, adjacent neighboring states, all dropped in from the air or landing by boat. Top of this list in the order of most Spratly possessions: Vietnam, the Philippines, and China each separated from the other sometimes by a strip of water no more than 20km.
Welcome to the beginnings of a New World Order: the Kingdom of Spratly split into half a dozen states.
The Chinese are truly master builders, even historically, showing off their skills thanks to instigation by the Philippines, backed by America, and now by Zahid Hamidi of Malaysia. They would have let the Spratly alone if not because Benigno Aquino had been taunting them and, in the process and over the years, kidnapping and beheading people, Chinese Malaysians included, jailing Chinese fishermen and shooting Chinese tourists.
Below are a series of satellite images — thanks to the spying Americans and their Filipino lackeys — that showed its transformation of Johnson Reef and the Fiery Cross atoll into islands within 12 months, today completely habitable.
Fiery Cross has aircraft landing, runway and ship docking facilities. It is this atoll that Zahid Hamidi was bitching about recently, except there is a problem with his whining. This ain’t fucking Tanah Malaiyoo: ‘You don’t like it, Zahid, and you think it’s Tanah Melayu, go and take it. Or blow it up with your French submarines. Or use the Hornets. Not the Sukhois, or else the Cossacks will disembowel you along with your wife. But, will your Hornets fly, Zahid?’
Island building by China
On Johnson Reef
On Fiery Cross Atoll
Apr 2015 close-up
Below is the Vietnamese transformation of Sand Cay, right next door to Itu Aba occupied by another American lackey called Taiwan.
Posted in Malaysia: Dialogue |
When Najib Razak needs to shore up his credentials as the penultimate Malay/Umno chief, he hits the Chinese in Malaysia hard, calling them names; the word ‘pigs’ is in vogue. When he hits China, with who does he want to establish his credentials?
To get at China, he wouldn’t be doing it for the benefit of the Philippines nor Vietnam because both are Malaysia’s rival claimants on parts of the Spratly islands. He owes them nothing anyway. But, America comes to mind.
If that were the case, what’s in it for Najib? Can he be doing it in the national interest, that is, purely for Malaysia’s sake? Which is also to say, Malaysia has to get something from the Americans while, simultaneously, in picking a fight with China, Malaysia will lose nothing as a result. Then there are the other questions: How will Malaysia gain? Who from? Why?
Yet, any which way one looks at this three-sided triangular relationship, a fight won’t yield Malaysia much from China: The latter funds and builds the second Penang bridge, the high-speed rail link with Singapore and many other infrastructure projects, including power generation in Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysian sell more goods to China than imports from it.
In its relationship with the US, what’s Malaysia to gain? Cheap medicines under the Tran Pacific Partnership? This can’t be. The TPP is an American statement of intent towards China so that it is the US that wants Malaysia on TPP more badly than Malaysia can get Panadol cheap. How about the gift of an aircraft carrier for Najib, on board which he can have another wedding reception? That’s a joke of course. Malaysia can’t even prevent its jets and engines from falling off the sky.
So that, if there is no national benefit in going against China, what was on Najib’s mind when his deputy Zahid Hamidi begins to malign China as a bully, working in the Spratly to seize Malaysian real estate? What’s in it for Najib and Zahid to instigate war with China? There are just two plausible answers.
A Barking Dog’s Sovereignty
Those are specific charges. But, after saying so, Zahid does nothing. There is no war declaration; he doesn’t send in warships and those invincible submarines to recover the property; he doesn’t send in the Malay regiment; makes no attempt — none at all — to even take on the Chinese invaders; not even a shot fired. In doing nothing Zahid looks a windbag. So that he will be seen as a man with just a lot of fart and spittle. A barking dog! Yet this is characteristic of Zahid as seen in local politics: a Malay buffoon good at howling and screaming at the Chinese who can’t fight back but spineless when, with Anwar Ibrahim, the push comes to shove.
Who wants something? Najib? Because of FBI investigations into 1MDB funds? Or, Zahid Hamidi because he owed American authorities a favor for acquitting him over links with a criminal underworld and underworld money? Or both? On the giver’s side is America. Its support for tyrants is legendary, and this runs from Central and South America in the 1960s and 1970s to Indochina in the 1970s, Africa in the 1990s to the Middle East at present. Closer to home, the US propped up Ferdinand Marcos, now, yet another Pinoy, so long as US warships and fighter jets could be stationed in the Philippines.
The willingness of persons like Najib and Zahid to use the levers of the country, that is, its national sovereign power to serve their individual, personal interest is unprecedented. But why should it be a surprise? After all, national institutions like 1MDB have been used to serve individuals; the AG Chambers to save Najib’s skin; the Police to harass his critics, all very characteristic of Najib and Zahid.
What’s the shock in the surprise is, Najib’s audacity to exploit the entire country for personal objectives. In taking the side of America, golfing with Obama, he dumps Malaysia’s international, long held reputation as a sane, moderate, a friend to all, a very smart country playing its cards right — a reputation begun by his father Tun Razak. To go back on his father’s word, which has for 40 years or more placed Malaysian foreign policy on the path of non-alignment, neutrality, then the stakes must be high for Najib. Some real big time favors to Americans? Jail in Alcatraz?
With big rewards come big risks. Najib, with Zahid to the fore, now drags the entire country into a potential conflagration between the US and China.
That is the one lesson in Najib’s Umno-style racial politics made international: Zahid has now only to call Xi Jiping a pig and all Chinese, in China and Malaysia, whores and pimps, their men out to grab Malay property and land. And what better place to start than the Spratlys. After which look out for the tone and language in Ahirudin Attan at Rocky Bru to fan the flames.
China, the Philippines and Vietnam are the biggest claimants on Spratly, virtually every visible speck on the map, so that, predictably, they fight the hardest among themselves.
The Philippine claim is as audacious as China’s. The latter calls it the South Sea Islands, or 南沙岛 nansha dao. Among Filipinos, South China Sea was renamed Western Philippine Sea (hahaha) and they call the Spratly archipelago the Kalayaan (map below).
Malaysia’s claim is restricted to those on Spratly south. Taiwan? It has just the island of Itu Aba. In international politics, the Taiwanese are just country bumpkins although in 2013 its legislature approved US$112 million to enlarge the Itu Aba piers to take in warships. The Americans, famously, had nothing to complain about the construction as being a threat to freedom of navigation.
Come Again, Zahid: China Invaded Malaysia?
Because the Spratly is a cluster of so many specks of islands, atolls, reefs, shoals and cays, 750 by one count, it seems at first sight terribly confusing. If these were grouped together and turned into a sovereign country — call it say, the Republic of Spratly — then it would make more sense and all the fighting for bits of dirt and real estate would vanish tomorrow.
Here, though, is the problem: this group sits in an ocean, middle of nowhere, not even a ghost in sight, and if the 750 pieces were bundled together, their total land size will amount to no more than 2km x 2km, not much bigger than the Singapore Zoo.
All of which says, that the Spratly, from the beginning of time, belonged to nobody. But if Najib’s grandfather had enough gumption, and a navy to back it up, he could seized all 4sq km of sea shell real estate in an ocean of 425,000 sq km after which Najib and Hamidi could claim it as bumi land and before which to call it Tanah Bugis Melayu, out of bounds to all Chinese, China especially.
But what would those bumis do with that Tanah B-Melayu? Golfing with Obama? Or perhaps fishing 24×7? Or, open up a Bugis brothel then, next door, a bag store selling Hermes? Here’s another idea: turn it into an ISIS camp to dump all Najib’s Bugis warriors. When in those places, you can’t even get Wifi much less P1 broadband, they could pray from dawn till dust. Or fight stingrays.
Here is the point then: Anybody, even Americans who took Hawaii and Guam (and these were populated areas), can claim any part of Spratly. But to own it — that is, as sovereign, national territory — you have to build it. Malaysia was one of the earliest invaders into Spratly, seizing (yes, seizing) Swallow Reef and after which taking from the sea bed and adding soil to the original 15 acres. The resulting reclamation produced a total of 86 acres, that is, 71 acres more, 1.5 km by 200 metres wide.
We call it Pulau Layang Layang.
Why on Layang Layang? After all it is good for some scuba diving by visitors and fishing by a military garrison, and little else. Answer: Because it is the largest atoll, nearest to Sabah — 300 km (186 miles) — and because from there Malaysia can watch out for those Sulu pirates who stole into Lahad Datu.
So when Zahid said that China had encroached on Malaysian territory, ‘just 155km (84 nautical miles) from Sabah’, you have to wonder: It has to be closer to the mainland than Layang Layang. But where? Which island or reef or atoll did the Chinese occupy, thereby encroached on Malaysian soil?
Here is the other curiosity: By international law, any speck of land is considered national, sovereign territory only if — and only if — that land is within 14km (12nm) territorial waters from the coast baseline. But 155km (96miles)? At that distance, it can only be property claimed — as Layang Layang is, so that if China, which also claims Spratly, should go to war over it, there is nothing Malaysia’s Australian or New Zealand military allies can do to help because that’s not UN-recognised and UN-registered Malaysian property.
Now, go to the map below. (And this is not some doctored piece of 1MDB document, but is actually embellished in color on a Google map.) Begin from the bottom. The single white line is the measurement for 80km or 50miles. The speck colored in a green ring with an airplane is Layang Layang. All those specks colored green are claimed by Malaysia. The straight green line is the extend of Malaysia’s claims, which places Layang Layang within the 230-mile-wide (200nm or 370km) Exclusive Economic Zone corridor, EEZ, along with five more green circles. (EEZ waters is still international waters.)
Within this 370km EEZ and nearby Layang Layang and its cluster of reefs are three other spots at present claimed and occupied. Two are taken by Vietnam (colored purple, i.e. Amboyna Cay to the left of Layang Layang) and one by the Philippines (colored yellow, the Commodore Reef to the right). No Chinese around.
China is building on seven spots, all outside Malaysian EEZ, and six of these are the farthest from any land mass, Palawan of the Philippines in particular. The one closest to Sabah is known as Cuarteron Reef which, being tiny, is of no military significance to China whereas Fiery Cross, the biggest with a runway, is even farther out to sea. Even at Cuarteron it is 86 km outside the Malaysian claim-line, 240 km from Layang Layang, and more than 450 km from Sabah. Again, no encroachment — not even on Malaysian claims.
Hamid’s way of deception by telling lies is now new. His attacks on China mirrors the classic Umno Malay politics employed on land: Lying to instigate fear among Malays of an imminent Chinese seizure on the former’s interests.
Stated another way, Najib’s government has begun to employ American methods in its foreign policy conduct by relying not on objective principles of fact, truth and friendship but on the emotional draw of race hostility and antagonistic nationalism. This is yet another sign of departure from Tun Razak’s, Malaysia’s and Asean’s level-headed, friend-to-all, foreign conduct.
If Hamid is yelling wolf out in the sea, why? Making those China-is-invading remarks, he has asked that the Sabah PBS assembly pass a resolution condemning the ‘encroachment on Malaysian territory’. What could be more stirring to the emotion than Sabah’s independence at stake? PBS is a racial party, strictly Sabah, strictly Kadazandusun, no peninsular, no Melayu and no Chinese.
If in Zahid’s political calculation, killing local Chinese to rally Umno-Malays work, the same could be worth trying in Sabah. Which, to put it another way, Zahid has no qualms dragging the entire country into a war with China to satisfy his domestic political goals. (Such rhetoric works: Assholes like this ‘truth-seeker‘ and S. Param actually buy the crap.)
This is reason why Zahid is not only an anti-national element. Should Umno be defeated, he alongside Najib must be investigated, put on trial then jailed.
Because the map above is unmarked, it should be read with the one below. Begin from the bottom, Swallow Reef, and move up. Another map at the top is also helpful.
Why is China on a Spratly building binge? There are two theories. One, all the construction followed years of sea and land provocations. On the Filipino side, arresting, parading then jailing hundreds of Chinese fishermen for poaching and (in Zahid’s words) encroaching its territorial waters; the 2010 hijacking of Hong Kong tourists in Manila, killing eight; troop landings and military exercises from Palawan.
The second theory, from American analysts, is somewhat queer: China feels left out. Everybody is building things in Spratly, why aren’t we, the Chinese, doing it? Especially since they say it is theirs. After you have the runways and the piers with nobody around to use it, what then is the point? But, recall that in the Spratly, the only claim you can make on open space — that is, on nothingness — is to first put something there, the bigger the better.
There is a also third theory though: the more the Americans want to contain China, the more forceful it pushes back. This is breaking out of containment.
Zahid’s May 13 Declaration in the Spratly
Now that Zahid has gotten Malaysia into a fight with China, the Americans must be rubbing their hands in glee. Here is a Flipino news headline response: China invades 3 Malaysian atolls, starts construction of Chinese facilities. The article was later pulled out. Gutless Pinoy, more bark than bite.
Here is China’s response the day after Zahid’s remarks on Nov 14:
China could have used force to expel nations illegally occupying its islands in the South China Sea, but instead is showing restraint, a top Chinese diplomat has said about the vexed territorial dispute.
Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin was speaking about the Spratly Islands, an archipelago where overlapping claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei are increasingly creating tensions.
“The Chinese government has the right and the ability to recover the islands and reefs illegally occupied by neighboring countries,” Liu said Tuesday in Beijing, without naming any particular country.
“But we haven’t done this. We have maintained great restraint with the aim to preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he added.
Posted in Malaysia: Dialogue |
Music above is titled Flowers for Yulia from composer Max Richter’s 2006 album Songs from Before. The opening line, read by Robert Wyatt, is from Haruki Murakami’s novel Dance, Dance, Dance. It reads:
I’d venture into the city with the first gray of dawn and walk the deserted streets, and when the streets started to fill with people, I holed up back indoors to sleep.
Here’s a tribute to being deserted…
孫露 : 錯
…這樣是錯 那樣是錯 全部都是錯…
This’s wrong, that’s wrong, everything’s wrong…
無人的大街 Deserted street
獨剩我一個 Here alone.
冷冷的嘴角 Chattering cold,
還殘留你給的餘溫 All that’s left warm.
我愛的太疲憊 That love doubts.
你愛的太累 That love tires.
所以你才選擇 So you choose,
此刻離開 now to leave…
Posted in 1 |
“…All I know is that I want, with all my heart, to preserve and celebrate what ISIS wishes to destroy: a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural life.” — Laila Lalami, author, The Moor’s Account (2014)
The personal essay below by Laila Lalami* is from The Nation.
What happened in Paris on November 13 has happened before, in a shopping district of Beirut on November 12, in the skies over Egypt on October 31, at a cultural center in Turkey on July 20, a beach resort in Tunisia on June 26—and nearly every day in Syria for the last four years.
The scenario is by now familiar to all of us. News of the killings will appear on television and radio. There will be cries of horror and sorrow, a few hashtags on Twitter, perhaps even a change of avatars on Facebook. Our leaders will make staunch promises to bring the terrorists to justice, while also claiming greater power of surveillance over their citizens. And then life will resume exactly as before.
Except for the victims’ families. For them, time will split into a Before and After.
We owe these families, of every race, creed, and nationality, more than sorrow, more than anger. We owe them justice.
We must call to account ISIS, a nihilistic cult of death that sees the world in black and white, with no shades of gray in between.
We must call to account Bashar al-Assad, whose response to peaceful protesters in the spring of 2011 was to send water cannons and military tanks to meet them.
We must call to account the governments of the United States, France, Britain, Russia, Iran, and many others, who lent support and succor to tyrant after tyrant in the Middle East and North Africa, and whose interventions appear to create 10 terrorists for every one they kill.
We must call to account George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, whose disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent disbanding of the Iraqi army destabilized the entire region.
We must call to account the Saudi kings—Salman, Abdullah, and Fahd—whose funding of Wahhabi doctrine gave rise to the scourge of Islamic extremism.
When I was a child in Morocco, no clerics told me what to do, what to read or not read, what to believe, what to wear. And if they did, I was free not to listen. Faith was more than its conspicuous manifestations. But things began to change in the 1980s. It was the height of the Cold War and Arab tyrants saw an opportunity: They could hold on to power indefinitely by repressing the dissidents in their midst—most of them secular leftists—and by encouraging the religious right wing, with tacit or overt approval from the United States and other Western allies. Into the void created by the decimation of the Arab world’s secular left, the Wahhabis stepped in, with almost unlimited financial resources. Wahhabi ideas spread throughout the region not because they have any merit—they don’t—but because they were and remain well funded. We cannot defeat ISIS without defeating the Wahhabi theology that birthed it. And to do so would require spending as much effort and money in defending liberal ideas.
I am a novelist. Every year, I spend a great deal of my time giving readings or lectures at which, almost unfailingly, I am asked about Islam and Muslims and the wars now consuming the Middle East. I try to explain and contextualize, remind people about history and politics, bring in some culture and art into the mix. But every few months, when another terrorist attack happens, the work I do seems to be for nothing. What chance does someone like me have when compared with the power of well-funded networks?
The beheadings, the crucifixions, the destruction of cultural heritage that ISIS practices—none of these are new. They all happened, and continue to happen, in Saudi Arabia too. The government of Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people this year than ISIS. It persecutes Shias and atheists. It has slowly destroyed sites of cultural and religious significance around Mecca and Medina. To almost universal indifference, it has been bombing Yemen for seven months. Yet whenever terror strikes, it escapes notice and evades responsibility. In this, it is aided and abetted by Western governments, who buy oil from tyrants and sell them weapons, while paying lip service to human rights.
I have no patience anymore for people who claim that Muslims do not speak out. They do, every day. Muslims are the primary victims of ISIS, and its primary resisters. It is an insult to every one of the hundreds of thousands of Muslim victims of terrorism to lump them with the lunatics who commit terror. The truth is that ISIS unleashes its nihilistic violence on anyone—Muslim, Christian or Jew; believer or unbeliever—who doesn’t subscribe to their cult.
I wish I could do something for the victims of terrorist violence. But I am a writer; words are all I have. And all I know is that I want, with all my heart, to preserve and celebrate what ISIS wishes to destroy: a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural life.
*A Moroccan-American, Laila Lalami is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. Her novel The Moor’s Account was a 2015 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.
Posted in Culture & Politics |
Ignorance and naivety suffuse Malaysian minds, so forget about Mahathir Mohamad (Israel is ultimately responsible for the Paris attacks), forget about Najib Razak, forget especially those sycophant journalists like Helen Ang and their copycats (Petra Kamarudin).
At the risk of adding more ink to ISIS (once praised by Najib Razak as a superhero fighter group), The Atlantic has an analysis that drew heavily on a critique of US senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who made the claims below, sub-titled in single line. The Peter Beinart rebuttal is broken down and reproduced here:
Paris was a wake-up call:
“The attacks in Paris,” Rubio began, “are a wake-up call.” Forgive the pedantry, but this is among the stupidest clichés in politics. Wake-up calls are things you plan yourself because you want to be awoken from your slumber at a set time, usually by a hotel clerk. The Paris attack was a horrific surprise orchestrated by France’s enemies. It wasn’t a “wake-up call” unless you believe its ultimate author was France itself.
A clash of civilizations:
But ISIS isn’t a civilization. In parts of Iraq and Syria, it’s a self-declared, though unrecognized, state. Elsewhere, it’s a network of terrorist groups linked by a common ideology. “Civilizations” are cultural groupings. In calling the Paris attack a “clash of civilizations,” Rubio evoked Samuel Huntington’s famed 1993 Foreign Affairs essay of the same name. In that essay, Huntington defined “civilization” as “the broadest level of cultural identity people have.” And he suggested that the world contains “seven or eight” major ones: “Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African.”
The most straightforward way to interpret Rubio’s statement, therefore, is that the civilizational “they” that attacked Paris is Islam. But it’s worth noting how fundamentally his analysis diverges from that of both of America’s post-9/11 presidents. George W. Bush said America was at war with an ideology that had “hijacked Islam” in the same way Nazism had hijacked Germany or communism had hijacked Russia. Barack Obama has argued that even this assessment gives violent jihadists a stature they don’t deserve.
Rubio, by contrast, is going far beyond Bush. And he’s doing exactly what the Islamic State wants: He’s equating ISIS with Islam itself.
They attacked because they hate us, western values, liberalism, diversity.
This is simply false. The Islamic State may hate tolerance, liberty, and women’s rights. But that’s not why its cadres attacked Paris.
A review of the organization’s history makes this point clear. The Islamic State began in 2004 as al-Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate, not because its then-leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, discovered that female motorists populate America’s highways, but because America had just invaded Iraq. When the United States began withdrawing troops from the country, al-Qaeda in Iraq did not follow them home. It instead went to war against Iraq’s Shiite-led government. Then, after the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011, it began fighting his Alawite regime as well, changed its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and declared a caliphate in the territory it controlled. “For more than a decade,” notes the Georgetown University and Brookings Institution terrorism expert Daniel Byman, the Islamic State “focused first and foremost on its immediate theater of operations.” (See map.)
If what motivates the Islamic State is hatred of liberal democracy, why has it spent years fighting the authoritarian governments of Syria and Iraq? And why did it reportedly down a Russian airliner last month? After all, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not known for its commitment to liberal democracy either.
The obvious answer is that the Islamic State fights those who block its path to power, whether they are liberal democracies or not. It attacked Russia because Russia joined the war in Syria on Assad’s side. Although Moscow has focused many of its air strikes on other Syrian rebel groups, the Islamic State evidently now sees the Russians as a battlefield enemy. That’s also how it sees France, which in September expanded its air strikes against ISIS from Iraq to Syria. Just last week, France announced it was sending an aircraft carrier to launch raids against the organization from the Persian Gulf. ISIS specifically cited France’s participation in the “Crusader campaign” in Syria in its statement claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks.
To be sure, the Islamic State doesn’t only define its enemies militarily. … The assailants, Said and Cherif Kouachi, chose Charlie Hebdo because, in their twisted worldview, mocking Muhammad represents a form of war against Islam. In Cherif’s words, “We defend the prophet.”
This is war.
(A) just (Islamic) war is still a war. Contra Rubio, the struggle against the Islamic State is absolutely “geopolitical,” and it has everything to do with America’s “military assets in the Middle East.” Women drive in Costa Rica too, but the Islamic State is unlikely to attack it, because Costa Rica is not contesting ISIS’s control of the Middle East. The United States and France are challenging that control, and as long as they are, the Islamic State will try to attack them. America’s domestic freedoms, precious as they are, don’t have much to do with it.
For more on ISIS and why it is not the same as al-Qaeda or the Talibans, there is Graeme Woods ‘What ISIS really wants’, also in The Atlantic. Most pertinently is the question, is ISIS Islamic? Woods:
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.
Woods discussion is shared by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who, coincidentally, has a new book ‘Heretics: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now’ reviewed in the NYRB:
For too long, she says, Muslims and Western liberals have argued that such atrocities, as well as the ideas and organizations behind them, are aberrations; that they represent a travesty of “true” Islam. Nonsense, she writes:
They are driven by a political ideology, an ideology embedded in Islam itself, in the holy book of the Qur’an as well as the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad…. Islam is not a religion of peace.
No intelligent discussion will say that only Muslims are capable of Paris (and elsewhere). But, to say that the ISIS attackers do not truly represent Islam — or Muslims — Annie et al haven’t got a leg to stand on with that sort of inference.
Such is the problem that now confronts the West (and the world as well) in the war against ISIS: plucking out the enemy that has its roots in people, history, and especially Islam embedded in their own populations. Coupled to this problem: refugees, immigration and the West having to go by its own liberal creed and multiculturalism.
Those lessons are pertinent to Malays: now backed by Najib’s ustaz politics and Umno’s moneyed men, PAS ulama-politicians, ustaz Jakim et al are going down this medieval Arabian desert road. Driving shopping cart trolleys! Keep going, boys, see where you’d end up?
The West wants badly, Be done with it. But how without destroying yourself?
Posted in Culture & Politics |
Petra Kamarudin or RPK imagines himself as a political guru, cleverer than everybody else. So he produces this platitudinous trite that is his trademark in Malaysia Today:
“I mean, look at how the non-Malays scream at what Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is doing to those enemies of his who are trying to destroy him. But that is precisely what Najib should be doing — destroy those who are trying to destroy him. And if you do not want to be destroyed then don’t try to destroy others because you will receive back what you dish out.” (That long quote from Politics is about destroying your enemy is necessary because that’s the Petra mind, like the twisted pretzel splayed out on a butcher’s table as if it were swine’s gut.)
And Ahirudin Attan? He must have thought of himself as some intellectual, a great writer in journalism with such lines: “sublime stupidity of half-baked and unoriginal political posturing by some of our friends.“
Sublime stupidity? Even if you grant Ahi the doubt that he was simply being polite in his ‘sublime’ sarcasm towards his ‘friends’, you have to wonder if, staring straight at the same sentence, it applies to him as well. It is where Ahi defines stupidity: ‘half-baked and unoriginal’, and a ‘posturing’ to boot. You get the point. With that sort of line, Ahi couldn’t possibly be sublime (= noble, glorious, lofty) in his stupidity. No. Being Malay and Malaysian, his person, his thoughts — his stupidity — they are just commonplace, like the man who thinks it’s raining when you pee in his eyes. Or, to borrow from Emlyn Williams: so stupid it sits on him like a halo.
An erudite is someone who displays less than he knows; a journalist is the opposite. — Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan
Essence precedes existence
Two pieces of rock: Ahi above, Petra below. See the similarities between them? It is called narcissism, an admiration of oneself, believing themselves to possess some profound ideas. They hark back to the old school of thought that says they have superior, immutable qualities that come with their great persona.
Thus, they won’t let themselves be seen with simple mug shots that would reduce them into the background and let instead the persuasive strength and quality of opinions to stand out on their own merits. No, they won’t: like the demented, like Helen, who must run down the street cursing, so birds must fly and dogs must bark. It is their essence.
When the political Opposition makes political capital out of 1MDB, it is to be expected. This is in the nature of the political beast called democracy. Had there been no 1MDB Tony Pua would simply have another thing to criticize, whether inside Parliament or outside.
Yet, the most potent of accusatory fingers hadn’t come from Pua nor Rafizi Ramli nor Lim Kit Siang because, after all, what can they hope to achieve; how far can they go. The most potent fingers came instead from within Umno and in particular the institutions of the civil service and the legislature, both actively looking into the company until Najib silenced them.
Those investigations into 1MDB say a lot, especially this: it undermines the theory that 1MDB is purely a political, conspiratorial attempt to bring down the government, with Najib first to go.
This — a political hatchet job — is central in the Najib’s defense so that his admission so far, and that of Arul Kanda’s as well, is never focused on the profit and loss in 1MDB’s commercial transactions nor in the morality of its conduct. Instead, all they ever do is try to contain the political fallout, using the standard tools of prosecution, lockups, and dismissals.
Petra speaks for Najib when he says, this is a fight for political survival. To say that means that the fiduciary aspects of 1MDB transactions could be quickly thrown out the window. Again, we read nothing from Najib nor from 1MDB about their fiduciary responsibilities each time Mahathir posts criticisms of the company. Instead when the criticisms taper off, Ahi quickly declares victory for Najib as if nothing Mahathir ever said merited farther examination, as if those remarks were just hogwash.
There is, however, a weakness in this Najib’s defense. A criticism from Pua is easily dismissed as political. But from Anina Saaduddin? Or Zeti Akhtiar Aziz? All this say that the farther are the critics from Najib’s center, the more portent the accusation.
Hence Anina’s suit against Najib, and Bank Negara’s demand from 1MDB to bring back the money, carry a greater weight in supporting the suspicions of wrongdoing. Why? Because they have far less at stake, if any, to want to bring down Najib and that’s at great risk to their persons. The conspiracy theory falls apart.
How then to round up the multifaceted, varied forces arrayed against Najib and still call it a conspiracy? Answer: they don’t and they can’t. The only response they have is to be dismissive, against Anina for example. To combat Zeti, Petra tars her with the same brush used against Mahathir: she too has not a clean past.
All of which says that every question on 1MDB is invariably answered with an ad hominem attack — never mind the incredulity and never mind the incongruity in the assertions, say, from Petra; he has the mental agility of a dog’s fart. So, the more strenuous the Najib’s defense, the bigger the conspiracy that Petra must hatch and make up because, then, Najib is no longer the perpetrator but is, instead, the victim.
Thus, in this confusion — variously labelled as ‘conspiracy’, ‘sordid tale’, a ‘mess’, even the insightful lady named Annie sees it as ‘war‘ — there is no telling right from wrong. In its place, instead, we have terms like ‘Malay dignity’, ‘Cina babi’, rationalisation’, ‘debate’, and Pandikar’s ‘Standing Orders’ as if that piece of paper is like his father’s prick and he, its master.
But something wouldn’t, indeed couldn’t, be lost in the daily progression of 1MDB. It is the morality.
Try as Petra might or Arul or Zahid Hamidi, there was no getting away from the trail of stench emitted by 1MDB. Hence, when Arul talks of ‘rationalisation plan’, he never addresses a fundamental point, that is, how did 1MDB arrived at its present state?
In dismissing that Arul then goes on and on to detail how rock solid is the ‘rationalisation plan’, making it sound like the turnaround of 1MDB from its 42 billion financial quagmire is an absolute marvel … ‘if only those bastards, starting with Mahathir, stop spooking the plan with all their criticisms‘.
But there are two things wrong with the plan, not with the elements contained therein — those are a given — but, rather, how, mutatis mutandis the plan will deliver the desired results. One has only Arul’s word for it.
(a) So theoretical is the ‘rationalisation’ that it looks to have been copied from a business textbook. This says a beginner MBA student could well take over Arul’s job, so one has to wonder if he exists as CEO in name but his work is talk, do political battles. Companies exist to make money not fight Najib’s politics so that Arul’s rationalisation actually contributes to the 1MDB stench. Yet he makes the counterfactual point that 1MDB is like any corporate body then goes on to compare, incredulously, this:
In the context of Malaysia’s gross domestic product of RM1.1 trillion, that is just under two per cent. In the context of government’s debt as a whole of about RM630 billion, its about three per cent.
He omits to say that GDP took 58 years to reach that 1.1 trillion size, and so too the government debt whereas 1MDB went from zero to 42 billion in just five years.
This way of comparison takes us back to the roots of 1MDB’s problems — how did it get to its present state — which, for obvious reasons, Arul has also been dismissive. The point in Arul’s comparison is that the debt is ‘manageable’. Of course. With all government resources at its disposal, Arul’s job to turn around 1MDB is already handed to him, child’s play. But this textbook plan offers no fundamental solution to prevent a similar fiasco.
On the contrary, Arul’s rationalisation task turns into a lesson in politics: how to cover up recklessness and to beat back the Opposition.
(b) The second thing wrong with Arul’s plan is this: because it is political it learn no lessons from the company’s past and so offer no permanent solutions. Below, Arul admits just as much, incriminating himself:
“…the idea behind 1MDB was a good one and it has achieved a lot of its strategic objectives. Unfortunately, there were a number of challenges along the way…”
What is the 1MDB idea? Arul again:
It was set up as a strategic development company with a vision to catalyse and stimulate foreign direct investments as well as do things differently for the government. … [In its] business model and capital structure … the government decided it should fund itself through debts — bank loan and capital market. The reason behind that was to create discipline; where you have debt, you have to pay interest and principal as well as freeze (sic) up government fund for other purposes like schools and hospitals and so on.
Pay particular attention to the last line, ‘debt frees government funds for purposes like schools and hospitals.‘ Which, therefore, says that 1MDB functioning as a social institution virtually obligates it to build debt, while Arul’s rationalisation (to cut debt) turns on and feeds on itself, that is, 1MDB. In building debt, the company goes about it in the exact opposite fashion which does not free government finances that, by now, had directly bankrolled 18 billion of 42 billion (the indirect portions would have come from entities like the EPF and Khazanah). After the debt, Arul proceeds to dismantle it, in effect the capital structure and business model that he has high praises.
In it all Arul still calls this piece of farcical exercise a ‘good idea’.
Consider again the model, plainly restated: debt to inculcate ‘discipline’, debt to free government finances, debt for hospitals and schools and yet everything in 1MDB produces the opposite. This is so unbelievable and so false you have to wonder, is 42 billion safe with Arul, not to mention Najib.
All this tells why, despite the Ahi’s ‘sublime’ victory declaration — we have won! — 1MDB still sticks out of its confusion and its conspiracy like a rotting front molar in Petra’s gweilo jaw.
It is also for those reasons that Najib’s governance failure is so vastly different from Mahathir’s. The first smells of moral fraud — deliberate indebtedness, lying and deceitful corporate conduct. The second was old fashioned idiocy. That is, Mahathir didn’t know better, another word for which is (to borrow from Ahi), stupidity. But stupidity is not a crime.
Before attempting to get a clearer sense of the 1MDB’s immorality, let’s return to the company itself and deal with the problem that Arul purposefully ignored, that is, how did 1MDB came to be in this condition.
Skimming off 1MDB
Anybody looking into the company, whether for the first time or the nth time, he is immediately befuddled. This is because numerous things — bonds, Term Notes, facility, Murabahah, bridging finance — do not constitute daily language. Which is to say we generally go through life without encountering these concepts, nor is there a need to.
Yet that is how the complexity in 1MDB sets in because, coming across those concepts, takes you into the minutest details into how the company carried on its business, how money was raised, from whom, for what purpose, where to, and so on. There is no escape from them for these reasons:
The comparison to foreign reserves is most pertinent in affecting 1MDB’s capacity to borrow, hence to finance its business. Once its business is conducted in a foreign currency, typically US dollars, the ability to borrow is outside Malaysia’s turf and, hence, Najib’s ability to influence it in matters such as interest cost, repayment terms and schedules. Najib’s government can’t print US dollars to back up 1MDB. He has to buy them. This is a beginning in 1MDB’s troubles.
To be mired in a foreign currency, Malaysia has been in this situation before: BMF, speculative trades on the UK sterling currency and tin, all under the watch of Mahathir Mohamad.
But here is the difference between the scandals under Mahathir and under Najib.
1MDB’s current set of problems lead directly to Najib — nothing is clearer than that which has showed up in his personal bank account — whereas the tin and currency speculations were just idiotic schemes by kampung boys going out into the world dreaming of fast, easy money.
(By worldly standards Mahathir’s men at the time were just kampung boys because they were dealing in a form of financial trading known as ‘derivatives’, new then even to New York and London. Recall UK’s Barings. When it collapsed, its board chairman didn’t know, literally, what had wiped out the bank’s entire capital base, almost 1 billion sterling. He didn’t know shit what Barings’ trader Nick Leeson was buying and selling — mostly stock index futures — in Singapore and Tokyo.)
Inverse the derivatives thing. And it simply means this: 1MDB is an old-school form of business finance. You want money? See bank manager, get letters of credit (hence, its equivalents in things like ‘bonds’ and ‘notes’) take money, transfer money (recall, 1MDB talks about conquering the world), put money down here and there, buy things, sell things.
Here is a piece of curiosity: why has 1MDB happened no where else but in Malaysia? Short answer: bumi finance.
Forty to fifty years of NEP has produced a culture in which, if you are bumi, better yet a Malay, you have only to stick out your hands if you wanted money.
To illustrate this point, go back to Sanusi Junid when he was a minister under Mahathir. Under his guidance, a whole generation of Malays tried their hand at small businesses to which their first problem is, capital. That is, money. Where to get it? Sanusi had looked at the Chinese mum-and-pop groceries and other WWII shops in say, Kota Baru, and decided, for a number of reasons, he wanted Malays to undercut this dominance. Among the rationale is this: the Chinese shouldn’t be getting fat on Malay customers.
Thus grew an entire system of government supplied credit, not unlike Mara student loans. A Malay has only to ask and the next day the money is there. This no-condition lending served many purposes, political, economic and social. Such easy credit schemes became possible because, at their root, they are also easy to write off when repayment never came. It is not your money, after all.
Some business flourished but many also failed because the credit went to install carpets, air-conditioning, and to buy a Mercedes from other Malays like Petra Kamarudin in Terengganu. (That man likes to brag, what a clever bumi businessman he was. But behind his so-called success is this easy credit.)
Now, take that line of bumi credit thinking and pass it through 1MDB and you’ll see, unmistakably, the parallel. (As a note: The Chinese shopkeepers survived. The Sanusi scheme did nobody any good, but nobody said anything because if you are a Chinese, you’d be called anti-Malay and if you are Umno, why should you complain?) Which perhaps explains why nobody, Najib least of all, gave much thought to where some of the loans to 1MDB went.
All that is the borrowing side.
Now, look at the lending side. Consider yourself an Umno chief from who government credit is available to the Malay after passing your door. You are the guard in the sentry house. How would you exploit that position? Which is also to say that bumi finance created, over time, a coterie of financial brokers — and, therefore, a culture — so that it is becomes very tempting to get a cut of the proceeds going from lender (government) to borrower (Umno city man).
Najib’s men might have even felt entitled to it, arguing that it is commission, much like trading submarines.
Thus, in the process of money raising, money lending, money buying things, grew a corps of middle men, people like Jho Low and Goldman Sachs who got a US$200 million commission for selling some junk Malaysian bonds (junk is actually a financial term) on behalf of 1MDB, raising US$1.75 billion.
At 11 percent, that commission rate for Goldman is astronomical by any measure in the world money market that charges a range of 0.5 to 5 percent. But that’s Goldman: you want ringgit you ask Najib; you want dollars you ask Goldman. This isn’t all. Goldman would have sold those bonds at heavily discounted rates because of its junk rating status. Meaning this, if the bond, much like an insurance savings certificate, is redeemed, say, at the fixed rate of US$1,000 two years later you might have only to pay today, say, US$800, a theoretical 20 percent discount.
Hence, in 1MDB, one reads a range of questions being asked wherein much has to do with the process of lending and borrowing. Like scooping off water standing aside a mountain stream, money is best snatched off in the process. Who is best positioned for the scooping if not the man involved in the process? The broker, the middleman.
All this isn’t unlike the Sanusi old days: some Umno chiefs become conduits to easy credit, and you better be nice to him, very nice. Think Petra, pleading to an Umno boss for a cheap loan to import bikes, in the name of lifting bumi economic status: ‘Tuan, tolong-lah, Tuan. Malam ini. What kind of girl you like? Chinese? Melayu ke or Siamese twin?’
Where money financing is concerned, 1MDB is like a colossal cookie jar, 42 billion stashed inside it, and if anybody has as much as resisted skimming off from the jar, that man is a saint. (And Petra will cut off his balls and nailed it to his bedroom wall.)
The consequences in this sort of wheeling and dealing are wide ranging.
Briefly, a financial part: how much money you spent raising every 1 billion determines how much you will spent buying things and, hopefully, profit from it. By way of illustration: if you raised 1.75 billion, spending in the process 200 million on commission and another 20 percent to bond holders for certificate redemption, the actual money you have raised and in your possession is just 1.2 billion, 1.75 – (.2 + .35). And that’s only breakeven, if after buying some KL land cheap and reselling it, making in between 550 million. This explains why 1MDB must buy land at rock bottom rates in order for it to just pay back the bank.
Now, to the morality which, at this point, becomes self-evident. Every link in the financial chain, from raising money to buying and reselling assets, carries this stench, minimally of imprudence when it is not outright fraud. And this stench lingers in spite of Arul Kanda and in spite of the propaganda efforts of Ahi and Petra to paint 1MDB as a political conspiracy.
In the morality of 1MDB, here is a metaphorical illustration from Husam Musa:
Supporting Najib is akin to mixing honey with faeces as the person is known to be corrupted and have been abusing his powers.
Another example taken at random from Chedet:
In the eyes of the world Malaysia has become a pariah state, a state where anyone can be hauled up and questioned by the police, detained and charged through abusing the laws of the country. And the AGs Chambers will dismiss or disregard any report of wrongdoing that involves the Prime Minister.
This morality language, note, does not refer to 1MDB because, after all, a company doesn’t shit in a toilet nor does it confer pariah status. Only people perform such tasks. Only humans have morality or immorality.
Posted in Malaysia: Dialogue |